quest began

So, why have we decided to seek a life afloat? Why a narrowboat on the canals of Britain?

After all, it’s not a small lifestyle change or something to be taken up on a whim. It’s lovely to hire a boat for a week or two and sail gaily along in the summer months, then hand it back to the hire company until next year. But living full time on a narrowboat? That’s something else entirely.

Well, I blame my parents.

Luckily, they accept full responsibility for our folly – and wholeheartedly encourage us to adopt the canal boat lifestyle!

It all started in the summer of 2016…

Ryan and I had been living in the UK for roughly a year and a half when my parents came over on holiday. They had hired a narrowboat for two weeks from Anglo Welsh in Great Haywood. It was a 58ft with two double beds, so they invited us along to join them for one of the weeks. I believe their master plan was to use us as free labour to open the locks and to have a proper chef cook all their meals

It was certainly a learning experience for all of us and most enjoyable. The weather was scorching – I got my first (and so far, my only) sunburn in the UK and even had to buy myself a pair of shorts which wasn’t something I’d needed before then, what with my Aussie blood telling me that 20 degrees Celsius was cold!

Sadly, Ryan and I had to return to work after that first lovely week. We went home with mixed feelings about our canal adventures; Ryan had fallen into the canal (predictably) and those locks were hard work for someone with absolutely no muscles or upper body strength – that’s me, not Ryan! But steering the boat down the canals and taking in the beautiful countryside was so relaxing.

But this wasn’t the point where the notion of owning our own narrowboat crossed our minds. Definitely not. It wasn’t even an inkling of an idea. Not yet…

Mum and dad returned to Australia after thoroughly enjoying their holiday. Dad was even talking about buying a narrowboat and spending several months every year cruising the canals, he loved the lifestyle that much.

Ryan and I went back to working and were trying to save money (to no real success). We eventually decided in early 2017 that the Lakes District, although beautiful, was too expensive and too far from where we wanted to be to continue living there. We had seen a lot of what the area had to offer and were ready to move on.

It was at this point that we started to consider ways of living inexpensively, without a massive mortgage or needing a deposit large enough to try buying a house. After considering a number of options, narrowboat living came up as a definite contender, eventually beating out all the others – it’s cheaper than renting, our bills such as heating and electricity would be much lower, and more importantly we would be able to see more of the country that we came halfway across the world to experience.

What downsides could there possibly be?

Well, obviously, there are always downsides, or at least things to consider and keep in mind. Firstly, they are called narrowboats for a reason… space is certainly limited, but by no means an insurmountable obstacle. As a child, I spent several years living in a caravan, so I know about cramped spaces after sharing a very small room with two younger sisters!

Also, by our own admission, we are nerds and we enjoy playing computer games together or online games with others around the world. Would we be able to continue doing this on a canal boat with a limited power supply? To be honest, this is something that we think we can make work, but we are still not sure about. We will be doing our absolute best to make sure our geek-time continues even on the boat, although we may have to make some concessions!

Hand-in-hand with this comes the issue of an internet connection, as we both intend to do some online work to maintain an income. After living with unlimited fibre broadband for the past few years, we will have to downgrade to a mobile internet solution – this can be expensive and is usually capped at a fairly low amount of data. Not to mention, finding reception on some parts of the canals can be a minor quest on its own! Obviously, this can become a problem if you want to play or work online or binge-watch the latest season on Netflix…

In our minds however, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. We’re keen to find our dream home on the water and explore everything the canals have to offer. Neither of us are particularly fond of staying in one place too long – the nomadic lifestyle suits us much more!

Besides, what’s life without a bit of adventure and a Quest to complete?